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EVMS commissions record number of military officers

Story Date: Thu, 17 May 2012 10:09:00 EDT

Twelve EVMS graduates bound for military service were in dress uniform Thursday on board the USS Wisconsin for the annual EVMS Military Commissioning Ceremony.

This year's ceremony involved the largest number of students in the school's history, and for the first time also included future physician assistants. Family and friends were on hand in the shadow of the Wisconsin's massive 16-inch guns to applaud the graduates and to help pin on symbols of their military rank.

"We're proud of all our graduates, but these students are not only answering the call to provide extraordinary medical care. They are also answering the call to serve this great nation," President Harry T. Lester said.

Keynote speaker Dr. Gordan J. Iiams, a 1982 graduate of EVMS, praised the graduates for their choice to join the military, highlighting the past achievements of many. He pointed to similarities in the roles of health care providers and military officers: both involve selfless service to others.

Michael Solhaug, MD, who had been Dean of Admissions when the graduating class was selected, spoke of his own military service in Vietnam.

Dr. Solhaug also brought along a U.S. flag flown over a firebase in Afghanistan. The flag was a gift from Lt. Robert O'Donnell, MD, who had served at the base. Dr. Solhaug recited the story of how Dr. O'Donnell happened to befriend a Marine, John Cancian, who had earlier served at the same firebase and has since joined EVMS at Dr. O'Donnell's recommendation. Mr. Cancian is now a first-year medical student.